5 key principles defeat produces growth

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still come out of it.” -Anonymous

First time in Seahawk franchise history did the team and the 12th man obtain the Superbowl championship. Those who watched the game saw the defeat of the Bronco’s (43-8).  The Seattle Seahawks franchise has won 8 division titles, 2 NFC Titles and now 1 NFL Superbowl title. Compare this to the Bronco’s franchise history record of 9 Division titles, 7 AFC Titles and 2 NFL Superbowl titles. In addition, the Seattle Seahawks had gone to the Superbowl twice in their franchise history while the Denver Bronco’s went 7 times to the Superbowl. For Seattle, this Superbowl win showed the fans that our team has grown and became one of the best teams in the NFL. The Denver Bronco’s also proved that they had become one of the best teams as well. Yet, in this last superbowl, the Bronco’s faced an abysmal defeat. Faced with a strong defense, offense and special teams – the Denver Bronco’s mustered all that they could to do their best despite the onslaught they faced.

So, what does this have to do with living an authentic Christian lifestyle? Simple, really. In life we face our wins and we face our defeats collectively in various seasons. As the saying goes: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. The question is – how do we handle defeat? And, more importantly, how does defeat foster growth? Here is how.

1. Accept the present reality

We may not know the exact thoughts of Payton Manning and his team as they realized their team faced great odds of winning against the Seattle Seahawks. However, it may be safe to consider that the looming reality this game was not going to be won caused them to question their ability and purpose. In life, we question the reality of the situation and how defeated we have become. We may have drawn on the strength of others, received encouragement and empowerment from wise friends and our own counsel with God. Our faith is placed properly and yet, it happens, we fail in some way and become defeated.

Accepting the present reality of our defeat begins the process of growth. This is because, when we are ready to accept the fact that we have been defeated, we actually release ourselves from emotional and spiritual bondage of self-inflicted suffering. We free ourselves from spiritual torment in questioning God and our own faith. Through the power of acceptance, properly placed in Jesus Christ, we are able to move forward in how to utilized those moments of defeat as stepping stones toward greater growth and empowerment. In fact, through acceptance, we do not allow denial to take root in our lives.

This does not mean that we say “I am utterly defeated and therefore it is no point”. We still have to live, we still have to apply ourselves and continue to drive toward the goal. In fact, watching the game, the Bronco’s did not give up, they continued to strive for the goal. They continued to play and made some really good plays within the game itself. Despite the fact that they were too far behind to win the game. We merely do not stop living our lives and live out our faith because we are defeated. We live out our lives and faith while fully aware and accepting of the fact that we are defeated and still move forward despite this.

2. Focus on what can be improved

Once we accept the reality of our defeat we free and empower ourselves to look at what needs to be improved. We look at what is working and what areas are weak. Then, we come to strengthen those areas that are weak. In Football (as much in all sports) we review the nature of our loss and investigate what may have been accomplished differently. We are not focused on the would have, could have, should have. We focus on what we are capable of improving.

This is where it takes work. Hard work and it begins with being Honest, open and willing to make necessary changes – even sacrifices in our own lives. Here, we take personal inventory of our own moral values, strengths and weaknesses. This is especially true if we find ourselves defeated by temptation.

3. True defeat comes when we give up and true growth comes when we rise above our defeats

There are two different types of defeat. The first is what this article focuses on – those moments in life where we experience defeat during various seasons of our lives and the ability that we are able to bounce back and turn them into growing points in our faith and life. The second is our own volition of giving up and not even applying ourselves and accepting the defeat because of our own self-pity. The difference between the two is one becomes a victim and seeks others to rescue them – sometimes persecuting those who may  not understand their plight. This involves blaming others for the misfortunes that have befallen them.

However, with the first one, an individual takes responsibility and accountability for their defeat and realize that just because they have failed and do not see themselves as a victim of the circumstances. While we want others to understand our plight and misfortune, it is up to us in how we turn them around and grow from them.

Hence, we decide to allow ourselves to become utterly defeated or decide to utilize our defeats to strengthen our resolve to become better people for our families, employment and community.

4. Acknowledge that it is a process that takes time

People in our society today are caught up in the nature of instant gratification. It has to happen right this very moment. Yet, the nature of growth is something that takes time and only occurs in stages. Growth from our own defeat takes time. It also takes patience.

The season for Football is over with. Regardless of whether a team has won or loss is not as important in what they are doing to prepare for the next season. In fact, each time has a fresh start at the beginning of the season.

For us, as Christians, we move through various seasons and stages of life. We simply do not stop growing and learning. Behind every defeat we face, there is a new season opening up that avails us the opportunity to grow in better and healthier ways where we become conquers through Jesus Christ (Romans 8:31-39). By acknowledging that it will take time and that our growing into spiritual maturity is a process of growth, we avoid becoming stagnant.

5. Realize that it is through Christ that we are able to overcome – even our own defeats

Faith is not built on the aspect that life is easy. In fact, faith only grows in those times that challenge us, where we face all manner of obstacles, and even face our own defeats. Utilizing our faith only comes from how we have cultivated it through the more troubled and challenging seasons of our lives. Without our faith, there is no hope.

For Christians, this comes in knowing that Christ is not only our Savior, it is coming to understand and know that as He had overcome the world – we are empowered (through him) to overcome our own obstacles and challenges. This is the promised blessings that we have.

No one knows defeat more so than the Savior of the world. He faced defeat daily when challenged by the religious leaders. He faced his defeat at the trial. He faced his defeat when being flogged. He faced his defeat when nailed to the cross and lifted for all to see him. He faced all of these with an eye single to the Glory and Will of God who had sent him (John 17:3) so that through Him, he is able to bring about the immortal and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39). Christ faced his defeats because He knew that sin and death will ultimately be defeated by his sacrifice for all of humanity.

Living an authentic Christian life is about living in the manner of how Christ lived. This includes facing our defeats in those times and realizing the greater picture that our defeats will ultimately lead to our own spiritual growth and maturation. This is only accomplished as we come to Him on a daily basis and follow after his counsel and his guidance. This does not mean we will live a tranquil life, it means that when life challenges and defeat us in those seasons, we are able to rise up with faith and hope and become conquerors through Jesus Christ.